One of my favorite grand-tasting experiences that happens each year is Family Winemakers. It gives you great access to many of the little, and even some of the big, guys that you don’t necessarily see out and about all that often. The key, as with any large scale tasting event, is to pace yourself. There are 220ish different producers and 800+ wines so it can turn into a hot mess real quick-like. I always try to hit up a few favorites but try to focus on wines that are new and different:
Kelleher Family Vineyard – in particular the 2012 “Block 21” Sauvignon Blanc. Mostly stainless steel production with a dash of oak to round things out. Oddly enough the fruit comes from a dry farmed vineyard in St. Helena, not exactly what you might expect to find in the middle of Napa but it seems to work wonders.
Swanson Vineyards – this is one of the staples that never disappoints but the highlight for me was the 2012 Rosato of Sangiovese. Some nice body but stays true to a classic summer-sipper style. It was a warm day in The City and this one hit the spot.
Benovia Winery – these guys are probably my new favorite Pinot Noir producer in California. I didn’t even get into the Chardonnay or Zin that were being presented but they made a stellar first impression with their Russian River Pinot. Classic Russian River Valley with all the finesse that Pinot Noir deserves.
Ancien Wines – Another staple that produces Pinot Noirs from all over California and even one from one of favorite vineyards in Oregon. If I had to pick one for the day it was the 2010 Sta. Rita Hills. Very rich, complex and just plain ol’ yummy.
If you find this wines out and about they are also worth a shot: